A charity for vulnerable children and mothers in Greece, founded by an awarded Orthodox priest, is rocked by allegations of sexual and physical abuse of minors by a staff member in its residences.
A preliminary police investigation is in progress, following prosecutor’s order, after a nineteen-year-old man testified that, in 2020, he was a victim of repeated abuse by the same member of staff at the non-profit organization Kivotos tou Kosmou, also known as Ark of the World.
The man has named more children as victims of either sexual or physical abuse at the charity’s residences, who are expected to be called to testify.
According to the latest information, authorities are investigating three cases of sexual abuse and another three or four cases of physical abuse.
State aid withdrawn until investigation concludes
Reports of the allegations appeared on Greek media this week.
In an official statement, the charity denied knowledge of the complaints of child abuse and appeared willing to assist the police investigation.
“If it becomes clear that people associated with Kivotos are responsible, we will take the necessary measures and suffer the consequences,” it added.
Speaking to state TV, ERT, on Friday, Father Antonios, the founder of the charity, and his wife, said they found out about the accusations from the media.
On Saturday, the Minister of Finance, Christos Staikouras, told Greek TV channel Mega that all state aid to Kivotos tou Kosmou will be withdrawn until a judiciary decision has been reached.
“We want to help the children but we want to know where do these funds go,” he said.
Charity’s residences for vulnerable children across Greece
Kivotos tou Kosmou has hosted and supported hundreds of abandoned, orphaned and migrant children over the years.
The organization has been relying greatly on donations from the public.
Residences operated by Kivotos tou Kosmou in Athens and other cities in Greece are “aiming to provide protection, care and love to children without any supportive environment,” according to its website.
“Our Homes welcome every child coming from unsuitable or non-existent family environments, as proved by social inquiries and decided by competent prosecuting and judicial authorities,” it explains.
The charity’s founder, Father Antonios, whose philanthropic work had started from an impoverished area of Athens in 1998, was awarded the annual European Citizen’s Prize in 2018.